If ASUO can’t break tie, Duck Athletics will get $0 from students.

2/7/2014 update:

It turns out the ASUO committee tie-breaker vote reported below was disallowed. They are going to meet again Tuesday 8AM (in the Rogue River room, I think) to try again. Presumably AAD Eric Roedl will be there, hat in hand.

If the committee can’t come to an agreement, the athletics department will get $0 from ASUO, although they’ll still get the millions in other subsidies described here and below.

AD Rob Mullens will then have to decide if he wants to cut the UO students off from access to the Autzen Stadium Student Section, or take other steps to limit student access to Duck games. Which would be political suicide for the Duck Athletic Department, so presumably the AD is engaging in some heavy student arm-twisting this weekend.

Of course Mullens couldn’t implement the nuclear option without the approval of Interim President Scott Coltrane. So, what do you think readers? What are the chances Scott Coltrane would let Rob Mullens cut the number of student football tickets?

2/6/2015 2:30 update: ASUO Committee votes to cut the mandatory student fee for Duck athletics from $1.6M to $1.3M

For background on the AD’s efforts to squeeze ASUO for more student money see here, and for more on the hidden subsidies for athletics see here.

Short version: The Ducks have hit price resistance from their regular fans, so they want to raise the fee to student government to ~$80 per student, to provide “free” tickets via a lottery. This is the second meeting of the ASUO committee that will recommend yes or no. The first meeting is described below. As usual, our students run an excellent meeting and the discussion is very polite, direct, and well informed.

At the last meeting, Duck AAD for Finance Eric Roedl asked for a 10% increase, to $1.8M:

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After getting a thorough shellacking by the students, he doesn’t show up this time. In fact he already’s dropped down to asking for a 3% increase. The students are skeptical of even that. Many ask why any mandatory student fee money should go to athletics.

Their most favored option seems to be to move to a model where students can opt in to pay a voluntary feee to athletics, for a lottery for football tickets in the same student section as now, and free tickets for basketball and other less popular sports. The voluntary fee would be higher, but only those wanting to go to games would have to pay it. The athletics department likes the current system, because it isolates them from the free-market, and hides the true cost of the tickets from UO students. (If you ask students, most will tell you they pay nothing for the chance to enter the ticket lottery. They’re quite surprised to learn how much it really costs.) This change would take a while to implement however.

As the discussion evolves it turns out that the Ducks aren’t just making ASUO pay for the tickets, they’re also adding on a DAF “donation fee”. Wow – is this whole scheme legal? I’d check the legal opinions from UO’s General Counsel’s office, but I had to give those back. Bummer.

In the end, of course, Roedl discounts everything, perhaps to account for the fact that the IRS deduction on the “donation” isn’t worth anything to student government, but most importantly because student demand is pretty price-elastic, so a bit of price-discrimination is profit maximizing for the Ducks.

A committee member proposes a cut from $1.6M to $1.3M, for the same number of tickets, instead of the increase to $1.8M Roedl was shooting for. Roedl’s response, by email, is to try and confuse the students with some accounting jargon.

Student question: What might Roedl and Mullens do if ASUO cuts the subsidy – would they cut the student tickets off? No more tickets for any games? Oh My God!

Fat chance. Their salaries depend on being able to credibly claim the Ducks are part of UO’s academic mission – no students, no IRS tax deductions for the donors, and taxes on the ESPN money etc. That’s the death penalty for college football – or at least a big salary cut for some well paid AD employees.

The AD budget is apparently $98M. The $300k we’re talking about here is roughly one day of revenue for them. Their revenue went up about $10M last year. This money is a a rounding error to them.

Lubash: I have a problem with requiring students, many of whom are borrowing money to pay their tuition and fees, to pay the athletic department money $71 a year for a chance to buy a ticket that they might not even want. Yes, I ran on a platform of getting more tickets – and on fiscal responsibility. The athletic department is not going to agree to more student tickets. So lets at least reduce the cost of the tickets that we can get to see our favourite teams such as montreal canadiens tickets.

At around 4:45, after a lot of well considered discussion, the committee votes 4-3 to recommend to the full ASUO that the fee to athletics be cut from $1.6M to ~$1.3M. If AAD Eric Roedl doesn’t like it, he’s 72 hours to put together an appeal and bring it to the committee on Monday. So stay tuned!

2/6/2015 11:00AM: 2:30-4 in Chapman 204. See below for background.

Rumor has it that AAD Eric Roedl might not show. He got angry about having to answer questions from students last time. Just like he got angry about having to answer questions from the faculty last year, and stopped coming to the IAC meetings.

Here’s the agreement between Johnson Hall and Athletics, to divert academic money towards the “presidential skybox” at Autzen, etc. That’s right, UO students pay for the administrator’s football skybox. It took a petition to the DOJ to pry this document out of UO – now it’s on the AD’s website, here.

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And here we’ve got athletics bitching that they haven’t got rent check yet:

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1/16/2014:ASUO meets with Athletics Department’s Eric Roedl on student tickets subsidy increase

Semi-live blog. Usual disclaimer, nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

For background on the AD’s efforts to squeeze ASUO for more student money see here, and for more on the hidden subsidies for athletics see here.

Short version: The Ducks have hit price resistance from their regular fans, so they want to raise the fee to student government to ~$90 per student, to provide “free” tickets. This is the meeting of the ASUO committee that will recommend yes or no. As usual, our students run an excellent meeting and do a very professional job putting tough questions to AAD Eric Roedl.

Andrew Lubash, Student Chair, many student Senators, and Eric Roedl and Laura Gordenson (?), AAD for ticket sales, plus a few other AD minions.

Roedl makes his pitch: Culture of excellence … Exceptional student athlete experience. School spirit and pride. 100K students interactions.

Room fills up with students.

Roedl: “I don’t know how many of you were at Rose Bowl…”. Ticket Agreement. We want to have “best student support” Benchmark is we want to charge students 50% of regular season ticket price, it’s now only 41%.

Repeats claim that athletics is self-supporting. Leaves out hidden subsidies. ASU voted new student fee. $100. Proposal is for a 10% increase in fee, from 41% to 45% of season ticket price.

Committee chair (?) proposes 4% increase. $72 in student fees per student. (Why are students paying for Mac Court a second time, and also for tickets at Matt court?)

Student: What about all your new money from ESPN?

Roedl: We’ve got a big budget, but thin margin…

Lubash: Student government has 5% cap on fees. Athletics is our biggest expenditure. CSL: Current Service Level. So when you say 10% you are saying it costs 10% more to provide same # of tickets. Is this accurate?

Roedl: TBD. But not looking at ticket price increases for next year. You are the only ones we can still squeeze. Cost really hasn’t changed, nor has market value of those seats:

Lubash: Every other contract we require a CSL contract. You didn’t. You’re just trying to catch up to the 50%. I think it should be less. Students should be getting a significant discount to go to our own team’s games.

Roedl looks glum.

Lubash: This is a negotiation. A lot of students don’t go to games and don’t want to pay the $72 for a chance to get a ticket. Some of those students elected me …

Student: True of all groups we spend i-fee money on.

Student: I did some research. ASU’s student government will get 1/4 of the football tickets for students. We get 8%.

Roedl: We don’t take money from the general fund…. (Sure you don’t.)

Student: I’m looking at your math. How do you figure the “fair market value” for a basketball ticket? (When you’ve got Dana Altman as coach …)

Roedl: Supply and Demand. Lots of empty seats though.

Student: What do you do with the tickets that ASUO pays for but the students don’t use? Looks like you resell them?

AAD: Rare that we resell football tickets. Lots of basketball games though.

Student: At what price?

AAD: Whatever we can get.

Student: Student fees go for the tickets, then you resell them and keep the money?

Roedl: If we ever sold out Knight Arena, it might happen. But that’s a pipe-dream.

Student: Tell us more about how you set your budget.

Roedl: Every year we balance our needs with the available resources. Everything left over goes to our exorbitant salaries.

Student: Tell us more about student discounts at other PAC-12 schools…

Roedl: It’s complicated, every campus uses a different model to hide the true cost of athletics.

Student: What would you do differently if we only gave you a 3% increase?

Roedl: We’re open to changes, every little bit helps though.

Student: What would you do differently if we only gave you a 3% increase?

Roedl: That’s a tough question to answer. But every dollar is important to us, and we’re worth it. But we understand we need you students to show up at games. (Or we’ll lose our tax exemption and have to cut our salaries.)

Hansen: You need the students showing up at your games so ESPN can put them on screen. Not a college game without them. You should pay the students to show up.

Roedl: We need the money.

Iverson: The opportunity cost of every $ athletics gets is a $ some other ASUO program won’t get. Many other deserving student programs.

Lubash: We need to come out with a number. I want to keep the number of tickets the same, or even increase it. But I haven’t seen any evidence from the AD why fees should increase. It now costs our students $72 a year just to get a chance to enter the lottery. Students somehow think it’s free. We need to see some reasoning behind this increase. You need give a positive economic argument about costs increases, not a normative, ideological argument that 50% is fair. I’d reply that 33% is fair.

Roedl: Tries to argue that ticket prices are the opportunity cost, then changes his mind. (But regular ticket prices have leveled off).

Lubash: You haven’t shown us the numbers to justify this increase. If you were me what would you do here?

Roedl: (More nonsensical spin.)

Students continue to beat up on Roedl. He looks like he’s willing to give the tickets away, if they’ll just let him out of the room.

ASUO President Gutierrez: Appreciate how passionate people are about Ducks, that’s why I am suggesting 3% increase. AD should be able to find the extra money themselves.

Student: Proposes that we schedule another presentation from the Athletics Department to get them to present more specific budget numbers to justify their requested increase.

Senator: We should be paying zero. This is ridiculous.

Dusseau: Lack of transparency from the athletic department. AD has the resources to pay for this themselves. If not, get the money from the bloated JH budget.

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21 Responses to If ASUO can’t break tie, Duck Athletics will get $0 from students.

  1. Oryx says:

    Good job, students! It’s absurd and insulting that the athletic department takes any money at all from student fees, and $90 from every student is just outrageous.

    • Trickortreat says:

      There should be a box a student can check as to whether or not they want to pay the fee for a ticket. If athletics is supposed to be self supported then I wonder what kind of issue this brings up when money generated via a student enrolling in school is forced to pay a fee to the athletic department. Go ahead athletics and shoot yourself in the balls by telling the students no. I’d like to say the administration and athletics are smarter than that but the line between smart and outright not giving a shit has become rather blurred this last year or so.

  2. Thom Aquinas says:

    How about exempting students from that fee who don’t want to go to AD games at all? Why is this mandatory?? If you want to study here, you must subsidize the AD…..Sounds almost like extortion.

    • just different says:

      Not extortion, just taxation. But in this case it’s excessive and unjustified taxation for an operation which does far more for the university than it does for students and which claims to be self-supporting to boot.

  3. charlie says:

    Somebody help me out here. Is the Matt Knight debt service coming from general funds, despite whatever amount of money the building gets for bball games, concerts, truck pulls, etc? Is the AD saying that they’re independent because the academic side is on the hook for those bonds? Gotta think that the Wall Street money palaces that underwrote and invested in the public debt were smart enough to look toward captured student tuition, and after that, the public, to make sure the flow is always going. Not just ticket revenue, which is elastic….

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that the deal is that whatever shortfalls occur at MKA are to be covered by something called the Legacy Fund, which is controlled by the AD. It is a $100 million + fund. The problem is that the revenues generated by the arena are far below the rosy projections that Pat Kilkenny & Company used to justify it. Whether the Legacy Fund is in any danger of being exhausted prior to the arena being paid for is something I don’t have a feel for.

      • charlie says:

        Thank you. I’m guessing that the LF is on the hook for the debt service, but that is only a guess. If memory serves, the bonds were thirty year, so they have over two decades to go before they’re paid off or rolled over. A lot can happen during that period of time, including falling student enrollment. The MKA saga is going to become far more interesting…..

  4. awesome0 says:

    The students asked good and tough questions.

    I gotta think those who are running the athletics department are both cheap and dumb. Here was perfect PR opportunity to say “We care about students, and we are not going to ask for an increase like we usually would, and we want to you to take the 3-4 percent increase and give it all to sexual assault services.” The positive goodwill from that PR might have generated enough additional donations to cover the 150k difference. Instead, they come and ask for 10 percent when every program is only asking for 3-4. And their only excuse is that we can’t increase the prices on the non-student population more, so its time for the students to catch up.

    The athletics rep looked ridiculous, dodging everybody’s questions which were simple and straightforward.

    • anonec says:

      To be fair, he is probably not used to such “tough questions” about the AD budget.

      He looks like thinking about the chances of selling the student tickets to JH and Co. I doubt they’d ask many questions.

  5. grad student says:

    You know… I’m a grad student and I pay these fees but I rarely get a student ticket. Why? Because I’m much older than most students and have no interest in being knocked over by drunk undergrads or non-students jumping over the wall. You never get to sit down, because everyone stands on the seats for the entire game, unlike in the rest of the stadium where people sometimes sit and sometimes stand but never stand on the seats.

    I’d much rather watch at home with friends and family. I’ll go to an actual game maybe once a year and buy an actual ticket. This way, I can go with my family–currently, if you get a student ticket you have a CHANCE of getting ONE additional ticket for a spouse or child. I’ve never been able to try this because a) You have to go over to pick up the ticket in person at a certain time, when I always have class, and b) my spouse also has no interest in being knocked over by drunk undergrads or wall-jumpers and standing on the seat for three hours.

  6. Fishwrapper says:

    Interesting that the AD finds as comparators schools that charge their students for tix. Many don’t – okay, perhaps not Division 1 Second-Place caliber schools – but to pick the higher-cost schools as the comparator proves the mindset. The campus is more and more turning into a source for funneling profit into the athletics endeavor.

    I realize that the pure truth in your reportage must be taken with a grain or two of salt, but if the AD position is half that you report, they should be ashamed, and kudos to the students for the tough questions. Ask more!

  7. Dog says:

    “We have got a big budget but a thin margin …”

    Wow – this seems to apply to most things UO now.

    Administrative bloat = thin margin for competitive faculty salaries, or better classroom facilities or the like.

    I bet that the margin is even a function of the budget size –> bigger budget thinner margin due to the Junket/Junk factor.

    This is an incredible lack of over-site; bigger budgets should increase opportunity space, NOT SUPPRESS it.

  8. HellNoWeWontGo says:

    The students should just stop PERIOD. It would be much cheaper I think it would be less expensive for the students who want to go to the game to pay market rate. I have never ever had a problem getting tickets to the football games often at less than face value. Nobody cares or even wants to go to the first 3 patsy games like Portland and Idaho! but the students will pay above market value for every game even though they are not even in Eugene at that time. Add to that the total slap in the face of the 1000 student tickets for the championship and it is an absolute INSULT.

    As someone here said. Keep the $90 fee for a year or two and put it into a fund to provide services for undergraduates.

    Take a VOTE and see if students still want to pay the $90, when the vast majority of the students do not go to games, the ones that go to one or two games can do it for about $20 bucks; and the rest who are just here for football and would already pay full market rate anyway it is logical that the AD will create a student discounts to help fill the seats.


    • GTFatLarge says:

      While the sentiment for letting the students vote on tickets is great, it isn’t reasonable. 4,500ish of 24,000 students voted in the ASUO election last spring. Students aren’t really invested enough in what’s going on enough to vote “no” on tickets and save themselves $90. A vote to save $90 of a $20k tuition won’t turn people out to the polls.

      But, the students that do use the tickets will absolutely show up to vote to save their “free” tickets, especially when the Administration will dump everything they have into campaigning for continued payoffs to the University. I can see the anonymously written Around the O headline now: “UO ballot measure to strip students of free football tickets”. The landslide victory in favor of continued student fees for athletics would give the athletic department all the ammo they need to press for even more subsidies from students.

  9. also a grad student says:

    Agree with grad student. I never use my ticket. Have absolutely no interest in attending any of these games.

  10. UO Student says:

    “We have got a big budget but a thin margin …”

    And since the last tuition increase “I have got a small budget without any margin …”
    Really don’t need to go, nor do I want to, nor could I afford it…

  11. Trickortreat says:

    Stop screwing the students. No students, no UofO. Duh. If you can’t handle the tough questions then maybe you shouldn’t be doing the job.

    • charlie says:

      Man, you can read it on Roedl’s face what he’s thinking, “U of Owe would be great, if it weren’t for all these god damn undergrads.”

  12. Anonymous UO Alum says:

    Given the obscenely high salaries in the Athletics Dept and
    especially in the football program, cut ASUO’s subsidy to Athletics
    to zero. Let this be the start of putting the brakes on Athletics and
    save the students some $$$.

  13. In Agreement says:

    I agree! Stop wasting students’ money and let them choose if they want to go to the games or not.

    Education > Entertainment

    • popcorn muncher says:

      That should go for all student fees that are unrelated to a specific enrolled class, especially ASUO.